First the bad news...
Retiring popular features so that you can "improve the LinkedIn experience" and then only making them available in more expensive plans are not the actions of a so called "member first" organisation.
I have been a LinkedIn member since 2006 and a Premium (paid for) member for the last 8 years. If you've never had a premium account on LinkedIn then you might not be aware of these premium search filters. It's a simple feature that allows you to refine your search further by filtering the results with options like company size and years of experience. With 21 million LinkedIn members in the UK these filters are very useful. So I'm annoyed to see them go and doubly annoyed at the arrogant way that LinkedIn frames it as "improving the LinkedIn experience". Oh, and this is not the first time this has happened. Early in 2016 LinkedIn removed the ability for users to save contacts, see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-removes-save-contact-feature-susie-sharp- and they have recently announced that they are removing the relationship section of a LinkedIn profile where you could make notes against your connections, see: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/68887
In their normal style, all of these improvements are described as improving the service. But in reality, if this is the case, why would they not retire the feature altogether rather than directing users to upgrade to keep using this feature?
The most common question about LinkedIn that I am asked...
I have been training in-house recruiters and HR professionals on LinkedIn since 2009. I get asked lots of questions about LinkedIn but the most common question is "Do I need to pay for a LinkedIn account or can I just continue to use my free account?" The short answer to this question is you should be able to show that you can get results from a free account before you look to upgrade. If you are finding good passive candidates interested in your jobs then you should be able to confirm LinkedIn is working for you, before you pay to upgrade. The reality is most recruiters that search LinkedIn regularly will come up against their commercial search limit (see: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/52950?query=commercial%20search%20limit) and will then need to upgrade to a Premium account.
However, when I am asked about LinkedIn's Recruiter product (this does not include the Recruiter Lite product) and whether this is worth the investment, my answer has typically been "not really". See until recently, this product has not had a killer feature, just lots of nice-to-have features that will save you time. So, if you use LinkedIn for hours everyday, then perhaps a recruiter account is worth it as a general convenience (it also helps that you get 150 InMails per month but it's not cheap at about £4k pa per seat).
The Killer Feature
We have some recruiter user licenses in our business. Most recruitment companies do, as you can pay a member of staff to focus solely on recruiting via this tool. However, we have never really seen a feature that made us go "Oh, now that is interesting". That was until October last year, when LinkedIn started asking members who were clicking on jobs if they wanted to "Let recruiters know you're open".
You can see this option listed prominently when you click into the jobs page:
This is how the job preferences page explains the feature to prospective candidates who would like their profile promoted to more recruiters:
This is how recruiters using the recruiter account can easily filter any search to focus on the Linkedin members who have highlighted that they are interested in hearing about opportunities:
Searching for passive candidates is hard work. When you are approaching LinkedIn members, most are not going to be ready to move, unless you have something that is an amazing opportunity. This means you have to do lots of work to find a few good candidates. As LinkedIn have sold more and more premium and recruiter accounts, the number of InMails and other messages sent about new jobs on the network has dramatically increased. This results in many LinkedIn members being inundated with approaches about jobs and they start tuning out. The key here is to tailor a short personalised message and I have some examples I cover in my workshops and webinars. However, even with a clever message I think it's harder to recruit people via LinkedIn than it has ever been.
However, now LinkedIn has made it easier to identify which of their members are "open", recruiters will be able to target their efforts to the right candidates and increase results.
We're running a few searches at EasyWeb and have been monitoring the overall % of members in the UK in certain job areas to see how many are "open". Whilst the results only suggest a small percentage, this is perhaps to be expected, as it is a relatively new feature and not everyone is "open". Also, notice the growth from pre-Christmas to January.
I would like to make 3 predictions about this new feature:
This feature will grow in popularity, perhaps to the point that certain professionals learn that all they need to do is update their LinkedIn profile to "open", sit back and review the options that they get presented with.
Some employees will run into problems, as their bosses with access to a LinkedIn Recruiter account will be able to identify which of their staff is "open" to new opportunities - this might have negative consequences for some employees. Whilst LinkedIn "takes steps" to not let your current employer know you are looking, this is not too hard to get around if you know other recruiters with a recruiter account.
Personally, I think it is only the short-sighted managers/employers who will look for and act on this information.
LinkedIn will sell more recruiter licenses and continue to increase prices.
If you would like to know more about how to recruit with LinkedIn or a range of other online recruitment tools, please check out our free training events, see: http://www.easywebtraining.com/ or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Written by Adrian McDonagh, Founder / Chief Ideas Office at EasyWeb Recruitment